how to read and pray the Bible
Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31) It is not a Protestant thing, or a Catholic thing- it is a Christian thing. How much time do we spend reading and meditating on Scripture each day?
St. Benedict, in no. 48 of his rule of life, said "idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the community ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in divine reading.” Divine reading in Latin is "lectio divina." There are some powerful steps to entering communion with God through this holy reading of Scripture mixed with prayer and communion with Jesus.
-1 a Call upon the Holy Spirit. (Possibly the best time is right after praise and worship, prayer in the Spirit as this is when our spiritual eyes and ears are opened)
-1 Lectio (read the passage, seeking to hear from God)
-2 Meditatio (when a word or phrase sticks out, think about/consider what God may be saying to you, personally)
-3 Oratio (pray, converse with God about this and seek understanding- "Lord, please expand on this")
-4 Contemplatio (sit in quiet union with the Lord) "Contemplative prayer is silence...or 'silent love'...like kindling that feeds the fire of love." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2717). This is where our strength and energy are renewed, our prayer power. (Isaiah 40:31)
-5 Actio (put into action what God is saying in real life) "Faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:14) We need to respond in prayer, but also in action- if God is speaking to us about forgiveness, we need to forgive, about the poor, we need to do something for someone in need, etc.
NB: the daily readings of the Church (esp. the Gospel) are a great choice for daily Scripture. Another option is to do a Scripture study of some kind- e.g. if you need peace, do a study of all the Scripture verses on "peace," and find out its true meaning, etc.
once, Lee Anne was meditating on the word, "therefore," as appears in Scripture so many times. She did not understand why this word had stood out to her. After 3 weeks (!) of meditating, waiting in silence and asking "what are You saying to me, Lord?" one day she heard her own voice, in her spirit, saying to God interiorly, "what did You send me up there for?" It was a revelation from the Lord! (Gal. 1:11-12) She realized that she had been upset with the Lord for sending her as a missionary to a town that she absolutely did not like. Of course, God later revealed His will and plan through a huge move of the Spirit in the life of the local priest and the parish... but at the time, she was upset and didn't fully realize it! Thank God that He knows our own hearts better than we do- but it takes the Word ("sharper than a two-edged sword" Heb. 4:12) to pry it out of us.
If Lee Anne had not continued in asking the Lord, "what are saying with 'therefore'?" this time in Scripture would have had no impact on her daily life.